Wind Speed Categories

by Jim Hurley
(Menomonee Falls, WI, USA)


This is a great site and I've purchased your books. I made my first attempt at a Diamond kite yesterday and will make adjustments before going out today. Also, I'm planning a big event for our boys club, with about 45 boys. Each boy will make a kite and we will fly them all at the same time. It should be a wonderful sight.

One thing that I may have missed is the wind speed for each category you reference. Can you provide the range in mph for light, moderate, fresh, and strong winds?

The reason that I'm looking for this is that I'm trying to determine which kite we should build. We will be flying the kites in Wisconsin in the middle of October. It is likely that we will have winds of about 10-15 mph. What is your recommendation? Keep in mind, these are 7-12 year old boys.


Firstly, here is a wind speed table which should prove helpful...

Light: up to 11 kph (7 mph)
Gentle: 12 to 19 kph (8 to 12 mph)
Moderate: 20 to 28 kph (13 to 17 mph)
Fresh: 29 to 38 kph (18 to 28 mph)
Strong: 39+ kph (29+ mph)

I don't think I have ever used the term 'gentle breeze' as defined above, but have often said 'almost moderate' which would be much the same thing.

It might be an idea to build 3 or 4 types, so here are some suggestions...

1) For the youngest fliers, the Simple Diamond is most straightforward to make and will pull a little less than the Dowel Diamond. Also, if extra care is taken to secure the sail corners with say packing tape instead of electrical tape, this kite will take a bit of punishment in moderate winds. It prefers winds in the Gentle range.

NOTE: If you can't find instructions for the Simple Diamond in your Making Dowel Kites book, that's because the Simple Kites Series has been split off into a free book. Let me know if you want a copy emailed to you.

2) For most of the other fliers, the bigger Dowel Barn Door is more rigid and strong. Careful adjustment of the knot on the bridle loop will fix any tendency to loop one way or the other when pushed to its limits. On the other hand, it is still capable of staying up in quite light breezes.

3) Be sure to make at least one or 2 Fresh Wind Dowel Box kites. If worst comes to worst and your flying field is pummelled with fresh or strong winds, this design won't break! Only for strong kids or adults in those conditions.

Use 50 pound line for all these kites.

On a general note, just about any of the Dowel kites would cope with moderate to fresh winds if you just went up a size with the dowel. But then, some tail might be necessary to keep them stable at times.

Hope this helps! Have a great time on the day...

Comments for Wind Speed Categories

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May 14, 2015
by: Anonymous

Good article

Sep 09, 2012
Answering Your Comment Jim...
by: Tim Parish

Sorry I got a bit carried away recommending all those different types of kites :-) ...

Talking about simplicity, why not just go with the Simple Diamond for everyone, in the sizes you suggested. With the horizontal spar crossing 1/4 of the way down the vertical spar, this design is a real piece of cake to re-scale!

1/4" dowel is a bit on the heavy side but should provide some insurance if the wind gusts do get a bit fresh.

A few lengths of 3/16" dowel might also be an idea to prevent disappointment if conditions go lighter on you. A 30" kite with 1/4" dowel just isn't going to stay up in light breezes.

If any of the kites persistently try to turn in one direction, despite having *plenty* of tail, simply add a small 'tail-let' to the tip that is on the outside of the turn. Add or tear off length until the kite is perfectly trimmed.

This should all be a recipe for a great day out with the kids! Hope it goes well...

Sep 09, 2012
Modifications for the Diamond kite and Simple Diamond
by: Jim Hurley


Thank you for your comments. In order to keep things simple for the kids I think we will build one kite type using 1/4" dowel. I have bought surveyor ribbon as a kite tail to help stabilize.

If we made several size diamond kites ... can that help as well? How about DL of 30", 36", and 40" for the different age kids? I'm guessing a 30" kite with 1/4" dowel would handle higher wind speeds than say a 40" kite with the same diameter dowel. Is that correct?

We will also try the simple diamond as you recommended with the smaller kids.

Thanks again for your books and comments!


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Wind Speeds

Light Air
1-5 km/h
1-3 mph
1-3 knots
Beaufort 1

Light breeze
6–11 km/h
4–7 mph
4–6 knots
Beaufort 2

Gentle ...
12–19 km/h
8–12 mph
7–10 knots
Beaufort 3

Moderate ...
20–28 km/h
13–18 mph
11–16 knots
Beaufort 4

Fresh ...
29–38 km/h
19–24 mph
17–21 knots
Beaufort 5

Strong ...
39–49 km/h
25–31 mph
22–27 knots
Beaufort 6

High Wind
50-61 km/h
32-38 mph
28-33 knots
Beaufort 7

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